We’ve gotten into the habit of switching on the radio in the morning. Not revolutionary, I know, but it was an old ritual I’d unconciously abandoned and which I was initially delighted to rediscover. Except that it’s not all that delightful listening to the Today programme on Radio 4. Yes, I’m familiar with the usual complaints about how John Humphrys won’t let guests answer questions, and how Sarah Montague feels she needs to measure up by being as unpleasant as the male hosts. But it wasn’t any of that today. Today I was just bored of the endless drone of men’s voices.

Unusually, though, rather than simply longing for women’s voices so we could hear ‘women’s perspective’ my irritation morphed into a different curiosity: why we define our ‘interests’ so narrowly that we preclude any nuance that reflects the complexity of both human identity and the broader society. I’d like to hear from more women, of course, but I’d also like to understand why most men don’t see ‘women’s issues’ as being relevant to themselves.

Let me explain. I don’t want white men – or any other men, for that matter – speaking for me and it’s self evident that civic life is impoverished when a wide range of voices and perspectives are excluded from public debate. More critically, this phenomenon often produces lousy public policy because schemes are undertaken with little understanding of their impact on groups directly affected by them. But I heard a curious exchange on another Radio 4 programme yesterday during a call-in about whether 16 year-olds should be able to vote in the referendum on Scotland. One young caller said he wanted to vote so he could have his say on issues like tuition fee hikes and youth centre closures.

Clearly, government policy reflects the fact that young people don’t have the vote. But it also reflects the fact that their parents don’t vote on the issues that affect their own children. Without wading into the debate about the voting age, I wondered why not. Surely many parents who enjoyed the benefit of a free university education would be concerned about the same benefit being denied to their children, not to mention the myriad other disheartening challenges young people face these days? If not, what on earth is wrong with them?

I suppose my perspective on this has been coloured by recent events in my own life. Last September, I gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. In the face of these enchanting creatures, the question of opportunities that are available to one gender but denied to the other which has animated my emotional and intellectual life since I was a teenager has become more personal and more urgent. After all, I am now speaking for both myself and my daughter. And I’m speaking for my son because I care about the kind of world he’s growing up in – and I hope he will, too. It’s also why I turned to my husband this morning and asked him to think about the opportunities available to each of our children, and what each of us can do about them.

So I’m thinking George Osborne accidentally got it right when he said we’re all in this together. It’s just that most of us don’t seem to know it yet.

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